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Rugbaí i nGaeilge / Rugby in Irish

useful phrases

If you're into both rugby and Irish then TG4 have your Saturday afternoons sorted for you! Since 2001 TG4 has been providing extensive coverage of rugby and listening to their match commentary is a great way to hear some Irish! As I mentioned in an earlier blog sports commentary is notoriously difficult to listen to in any language so it's a good idea to know some of the basic terminology beforehand. I hope the following words and phrases will be of some use!


Terminology Development

Rugby is not a sport traditionally associated with the Irish-speaking areas of Ireland. Thanks to TG4's rugby coverage, however, the terminology associated with rugby is now very familiar to anyone who speaks Irish and is into rugby. It's a great example of how the Irish language, as any language, can adapt into new areas in which it would not have traditionally been used.


Positions / Ionaid

If you're going to start watching rugby in Irish then a quick win is to become familiar with the names of the various positions on the pitch. Seo anois iad:

Loose-head prop / Frapa ceann scaoilte

Hooker / Húcálaí

Tight-head prop / Frapa ceann teannta

Second row / An dara sraith

Blindside flanker / Cúltosaí caoch

Openside flanker / Cúltosaí oscailte

Number 8 / Uimhir a hocht

Scrum-half / Leathchúlaí clibirte

Out-half / Leathchúlaí amuigh

Left wing / An cliathán clé

Inside centre / Trícheathrúnach istigh

Outside centre / Trícheathrúnach amuigh

Right wing / An cliathán deas

Full back / Lánchúlaí


Not forgetting one other important person on the pitch, of course: the referee / an réiteoir; also known as an fear atá i bhfeighil na feadóige (the man in charge of the whistle).


Scrums, tries and lineouts

Time to turn our attention to what happens ar an bpáirc imeartha (on the playing pitch).

Set piece / Mír sheasta

A try / Úd

A scrum / Clibirt

A tackle / Greamú

A penalty kick / Cic pionóis, cic éirice

A lineout / Síneadh amach

An attack / Ruathar, ionsaí

Possession / Seilbh

Handling error / Botún láimhseála

The wing / An cliathán


Blaiseadh beag / A small taste

Here is a blaisedh beag of some typical commentary you might hear le linn cluiche rugbaí (during a rugby match):

Tá an síneadh amach tógtha go maith ansin ag Browne.

Browne has taken that lineout nicely.

Tá an liathróid á smachtú aige.

He is controlling the ball.

Tá seilbh faighte acu ar an liathróid.

They have got possession of the ball.

Tá an liathróid buailte chun cinn ag na Connachtaigh.

The Connacht team have knocked the ball on.

Tá cir éirice bronnta ar na hUltaigh.

The Ulster team have been awarded a penalty kick.

Tá an ceann sin glanta go maith ag Browne.

Browne has cleared that one nicely.

Tá an liathróid caillte acu.

They have lost the ball.


Tá brú ag teacht ó na Connachtaigh.

The Connacht team are putting on the pressure.


What you definitely don't want to hear about your own team is:

Is ar éigean a leag Connachtach lámh ar an liathróid go dtí seo.

A Connacht player has barely laid a hand on the ball so far.

But this would be good to hear:

Tá sé tar éis an líne a thrasnú chun Connacht a chur chun cinn.

He is after crossing the line to put Connacht ahead.


Ná Cúigí / The Provinces

You will definitely need to know the names of the provinces in Irish if you are going to be watching rugbaí i nGaeilge.

Cúige Chonnacht / the province of Connacht

Cúige Mumhan / the province of Munster

Cúige Uladh / the province of Ulster

Cúige Laighean / the province of Leinster


It's also very common for a commentator to refer to the Connacht team as 'na Connachtaigh'; or the Munster team as 'na Muimhnigh'. The words below ending in 'ach' mean someone from that particular place; and the plural form ends in 'aigh' or 'igh'.

Connachtach / na Connachtaigh 

Muimhneach / na Muimhnigh

Ultach / na hUltaigh

Laighneach / na Laighnigh


Tá an liathróid glanta go maith ag na Muimhnigh.

The Munster team have cleared the ball nicely.

Tá an liathróid curtha thar an trasnán ag an gConnachtach.

The Connacht player has put the ball over the crossbar.


Focal Scor / A Final Word

If you're into rugby then you are really going to get plenty of practice listening to Irish with TG4! Ná bí buartha, no worries, however if you don't understand as much as you would like. It takes time to get your ear attuned and to become familiar with a totally new vocabulary if you are not hearing it regularly. Bain sult as an gcluiche (enjoy the match) agus go raibh an bua ag an bhfoireann is fearr (may the best team win) long as it's your team ;-)

If you want to learn Irish the easy way do check out my online courses for learning Irish. My courses cater for all levels from Beginner Irish to Beyond Beginner and more advanced. There are also courses on Irish Literature and Irish Poetry. If you've any questions at all you can contact me here.

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